The Big Read 2011: About the Book and the Ballet


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is not merely a literary classic. It is part of the American imagination. More than any other work in our culture, it established America's vision of childhood. Mark Twain created two fictional boys, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, who still seem more real than most of the people we know. In a still puritanical nation, Twain reminded adults that children were not angels, but fellow human beings, and perhaps all the more lovable for their imperfections and bad grooming. Neither American literature nor America has ever been the same.

A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment. It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us. Whether you’re a regular reader already or making up for lost time, thank you for joining The Big Read.


Tom Sawyer—A Ballet in Three Acts, music by Maury Yeston and choreography by William Whitener, is the first full-length ballet on an American subject, conceived by an American composer and presented by an American company in recent memory. Inspired by Mark Twain’s classic work that captures the eternal wonder and adventure of boyhood, the three acts portray all of the well-known episodes from the familiar tale—the painting of the fence, the love for Becky Thatcher, friendship with Huck Finn, the witnessing of the murder, the Trial, and the colorful and legendary life along the Mississippi of Twain’s era that has become part of our central American myth and our treasured heritage.